Waterloo wins pair of 2017 Ontario municipalities awards
City wins both of year's awards, for innovation and asset management
The City of Waterloo won awards in both categories recognized at this year's Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference in Ottawa, where the province's 444 municipalities gathered to tackle issues and celebrate achievements.
"I really think this is what shows we have a lot of smart-city technology here in the Waterloo Region," Mayor Dave Jaworsky told CBC News.
"I think we can be proud of a community where we're taking innovation and internalising it into all levels of government."
Awards in two categories are given out each year, and this year Waterloo was a recipient of both.
The Peter J. Marshall Innovation Award honoured PickupHub, a sports app that coordinates game schedules, registration, payment and social networking, offering players the chance to join a team on a game by game basis.
Homegrown talent making it easier for people to get active — it doesn't get any better than that.- City of Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky
An app developed specifically for Waterloo, PickupHub makes it easier for residents to engage in casual sports, joining teams and games out in the community, said Jaworsky.
It's resulted in an almost 600 per cent increase in soccer participation, which is something he and the city are proud of.
"Homegrown talent making it easier for people to get active — it doesn't get any better than that."
The app is a beneficial tool for the city and residents, offering self-service sport sign-up that eases the burden on the city to offer and organize casual sport leagues.
With more than 6,500 users and steadily increasing, the app is growing its reach across the city and includes hockey, beach volleyball, basketball and more. It's also raised over $15,000 in municipal revenue, by connecting residents to services the city already offers.
Waterloo isn't the only city in the region to be recognized for innovation: The City of Cambridge also received the Marshall award for its new approach to sewer maintenance, called "ice pigging."
Gas Tax Award
The second accolade for Waterloo was the AMO Gas Tax Award, an annual competition between municipalities that recognizes cities who 'creatively and successfully implement new, innovative ways of serving the public'.
It's a competition Jaworsky is proud to be thriving in.
"There's 444 municipalities in Ontario and we're all trying to serve the community as best we can," he said. "I think in Waterloo we have a leg up because there's so much innovation going around us."
Using more than $700,000 from the federal Gas Tax Fund, the city created an asset management system to guide infrastructure investment and maintenance over the next 25 years.
With $1.6 billion in assets, it was time for the city to look critically at it's investments and plan for the future, said Jaworsky. "That's roads, arenas, pipes."
The new asset management system expands on previous processes. The city has "taken that system, and what staff are able to do is actually predict the future condition based on investment levels."
Waterloo shared the Gas Tax Award this year with the Municipality of Kincardine, and the City of St. Thomas.